This article is not about the function of Acclaim. It is an article about a very controversial thread from the official 9Dragons forum, entitled Function of Acclaim as well as some threads that were started in reaction to that thread.
Presentation of the problem
The community has often blamed the Acclaim company for most InGame shortcomings. Forum moderators and VGMs often responded to these complaints by reassuring that the Acclaim company is not directly interfering with the gameplay and its interface. Because most of those complaints have become locked or deleted (mostly for Flaming), the community was left without the scapegoat to direct its blames to. This was often discussed but never fully answered, creating the inquiry what the actual job of Acclaim is( Link to the function of Acclaim forum thread). Some forum threads (like the one transcribed above) tried to explain Acclaim's authority but users could never effectuate a thoroughly search or give an satisfying answer to this issue because of lack of official information.
Official Function of Acclaim
One of Acclaim's Volunteer Game Moderators (VGM) stated the following: To simply put it: Acclaim doesn't make the game they host and run the game so people in the United states/Europe have the pleasure of enjoying it as well. The original post has since been deleted, but a quote of that text can be found here.
A second source has also stated that "Acclaim is the publisher, translator, community supervisor and interlocutor between the users and the patch-developing Indy21. This is a symbiotic partnership where both companies work together to improve gameplay."
Function of Acclaim
Since the start of the Beta version of 9 Dragons, most players ask who the company actually is that hosts the game, and what authority it has. From what users know, Indy21 is the company that creates and actually develops the content of the game, while Acclaim is the publisher, translator, community supervisor and interlocutor between the users and the patch-developing Indy21. On the 21st of May (shortly after the start of the Patch 44 crisis), most of these conventions were put into question by an uncommon thread on the official 9 Dragons forum.
(note: this article is often switching from the publicist to the argumentative stylistic register, being therefore subjective, and possibly not neutral in its point of view)
Interviews with Howard Marks
The thread is, in fact, a résumé of some older interviews, gathered from different game websites, answered by some of the company's leaders. The post following is widely unchanged (reformatted), it was locked because of Flaming by forum moderator and VGM warda, later deleted for unknown reason.
- Short intro: I was looking up some info, and I found some interviews that had some information that I thought people would find interesting. Because this is the CEO answering these questions, you can treat this as official information. Trust me, it doesn't get much more official than that. I would think that the significance of these quotes is somewhat obvious.
- First of all, I have finally figured out who the senior executives are:
- Howard Marks, CEO
- Neil Malhotra, Chief Technology Officer
- David Perry, Chief Creative Officer
- David Jun, Brand Manager
- From and interview with the CEO (Unknown date, estimated to be about 6 months old):
- MMORPG.com: The players would like to see more quest content added to the game. Do you plan on adding more in-depth quests and what would be the time frame on that?
- Howard Marks: We are about to add about 100 more quests to the game at just about every level. Some major quests that bring huge rewards are in the works and we've also got an entire new map in development that's twice as beautiful and twice as deadly as anything that's been seen in The Land so far. I'd tell you more, but then you know what I'd have to do...
- MMORPG.com: There are a lot of free MMOs of this genre on the market. How does your game set itself apart from the others?
- Howard Marks: Good question. 9Dragons has many game elements that no other game offers, like our meditation skills, or our Lightfoot techniques, or our Kung Fu training.
- There are four major goals we keep in mind at all times as we develop 9Dragons, that we feel really make a difference: authenticity, gameplay, story, and community. Authenticity in all of our weapons, wardrobe, and architecture, the best gameplay we can program into our quests, dungeons, wars, duels and PVP, an evolving story from our bestselling author, Steven-Elliot Altman, who is now planning to expand the world of 9D into novels, and our most important concern is fostering our player Community. We listen to them when their ideas make sense, we act on their suggestions, and we play alongside them every day. Our players have always been thankful to us for giving them the game for free, and they have helped us improve it during beta with true gusto because of it. Now they're showing their gratitude by helping to support the game through Item Mall sales. We believe those four goals will continue to set us apart from the herd.
- From another interview (Dec 2007, very recent)
- Marks emphasized through that the company is committed to actual free-to-play. One common consumer complaint with the model is that while some games advertise their games as such, many build in an artificial gameplay wall where a player basically is forced to buy items or coin to progress in the game. He says that none of Acclaim's games do this, nor will there ever be any artificial walls.
- Acclaim has carved out its niche through the adaptation of Eastern games for Western audiences. Their two major MMORPGs, 9Dragons and 2Moons, were both originally South Korean. Unlike many of their competitors though, Acclaim is a fully Western company, based in California. Marks often clarifies that his company fully adapts these games, they don't just translate the words, they hire North American designers and writers to tweak the mechanics and re-write the stories.
- Now, for the last of the interview comments. These are from an interview from April 2007, a year ago.
- MMOL: After the official release, how often can players expect to see "mini" content updates and or full expansion type of game updates?
- Howard: We want to continuously upgrade the game with new content and gameplay. If players saw our plans and list of releases for this year, their heads would spin.
- Steven: We have a full-scale invasion of hostile forces planned for the not-to-distant future. Our Beta players have actually experienced less than a quarter of this first installment (they’ll be happy to hear). To quote Confucius, “You ain’t seen nuthin yet, grasshopper".
- MMOL: Also in regards to updates, what kind of liberties are you afforded by Indy21 in terms of content and writing for the updates/expansions?
- Steven: Well, I am happy to report that Indy21, who admit they were quite skeptical at first (that an American could do justice to a Martial Arts game that centered on Ancient Chinese Chivalry), have now elevated us to become an equal collaborative force on all future content. I guess the reverence and attention to detail I showed to Shaolin and Tai Chi combat traditions won them over. The real credit goes to all those Saturday morning Kung Fu movies I watched over and over again.
- New one, inspired by a forum post of showboy (thanks) from September 26th, 2006.
- In lieu of a subscription, 9Dragons players can support their experience through in-UI / loading screen advertising or by paying a nominal fee that removes the ads. However, if I'm in a good group, I might see an interesting ad but be afraid to click on it for fear of forsaking my group responsibilities. Marks responded to my concerns with the following comments:“First, the ads do not interrupt gameplay, this is a sacred rule at our company. The ads appear at the appropriate times when the character moves into a new area and when a new map is loaded. The ads also appear during conversations with NPCs. But never while fighting. In addition, the player would only click on an ad during a natural pause of the game so there would never be a conflict from a player’s point of view.”
Originally Indy21 sold the distribution rights for 9Dragons to two companies. Acclaim got US rights and a company called Persistent Worlds got the European rights. But Persistent Worlds failed to distribute 9Dragons in the European market while closed beta and had to close at 22. January 2007:
- January 2007
- You will have noticed on the front of the 9Dragons log-in screen that The Persistent Worlds Company Ltd has ceased to trade. This is extremely disappointing given the obvious support the game has. However a lack of future funding has meant that the company has to stop operating. In due course the servers will be shut down and the forums withdrawn.
- We would like to say that you have been a great community and it has been our honour to serve you. We wish you good luck in your gaming future and hope that you find a game where you can all be re-united.
- With great regret,
- The Persistent Worlds Team
Afterwards the European rights on 9Dragons felt over to Acclaim who started to run an European Server with Bardo. The question if Acclaim is doing the Job to distribute 9Dragons better is still open.